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Offseason | 2024

NFL 2024 Salary Cap: Cowboys by the Numbers


FRISCO, TX — Stop me if you've heard this before: the NFL is a business. That means money makes it go around and, in professional football, how teams manage their respective salary cap can either help make or break their season — the Dallas Cowboys being non-exempt from this reality.

And with the complete offseason NFL calendar now revealed, including franchise/transition tag deadlines and the opening of the new league year on March 15, the Cowboys must balance filling vacancies on their coaching staff with contract talks on looming in-house free agents.

They can now get to the business of doing the latter after the NFL notified teams of where the 2024 salary cap will be set — a robust figure of $255.4 million, the league announced on Friday.

That number is far-and-away the highest on record, as you can readily see:

  • 2019: $188.2 million
  • 2020: $198.2 million
  • 2021: $182.5 million*
  • 2022: $208.2 million
  • 2023: $224.8 million
  • 2024: $255.4 million

*adjusted for COVID-19 impact

The cap has gone up year-over-year with the exception of the pandemic-strapped 2020 season that led to a revenue hit impacting the following year. Entering this offseason, the Cowboys were/are deep in the red at approximately $16.1 million over the cap, per Spotrac.

With the actual cap being significantly higher than expected, that number shrinks to just over $3 million in the red — a huge helping hand for the Cowboys.

The franchise tag amounts have also been set by the league (the following are approximations):

  • QB: $36.3 million
  • LB: $22.8 million
  • DT: $20.9 million
  • WR: $20.7 million
  • DE: $20.2 million
  • OL: $19.9 million
  • CB: $18.8 million
  • S: $16.2 million
  • TE: $12.1 million
  • RB: $11.3 million (note: this is a 1st tag amount, not a 2nd)
  • ST: $5.7 million

Needless to say, the Cowboys will have to do some maneuvering to not only get into the gren, but to also create flexibility going forward, particularly as it relates to not only retaining and/or acquiring free agents in the spree to come, but also to prevent cornerstone talent from landing in free agency in the near future.

Dak Prescott, who earned a third Pro Bowl nod in 2023 to go along with MVP candidacy, has long been expected to land a second contract extension from the Cowboys, regardless of the total team letdown against the Green Bay Packers in early January.

As far as the numbers go, Prescott is set to hit the Cowboys' salary cap for a cumbersome $61.92 million in 2024 — if the current contract is left to its own devices. Extending the 30-year-old would instantly provide millions in cap relief, but so would a restructure, the latter being a built-in feature of the current deal that would not require negotiation and would free up nearly $22 million in cap space.

For bookkeeping purposes, it's key to note here that Prescott also has both a no-trade and a no-tag clause in his current contract.

However the added funds are acquired, they'll be useful in the upcoming negotiations of CeeDee Lamb, who registered a historic season in 2023 and is likely in line to reset the market at wide receiver.

And then there's all-world pass rusher Micah Parsons, who is eligible to begin contract negotiations this offseason, but it's also true the Cowboys can (and will) execute his fifth-year option for 2025 and, assuming they do, it will give them time to sort through the list of other items before meeting him at the table for a deal that will potentially make him the highest-paid player in NFL history.

Those three players are all currently under contract, however, so let's take a look at who will no longer be, absent a new deal landing prior to March 13.

2024 unrestricted free agents:

  • Tyron Smith, OL
  • Tyler Biadasz, OL
  • Chuma Edoga, OL
  • Tony Pollard, RB
  • Rico Dowdle, RB
  • Sean McKeon, TE
  • Stephon Gilmore, CB
  • Jourdan Lewis, CB
  • Noah Igbinoghene, CB
  • Jayron Kearse, S
  • C.J. Goodwin, DB
  • Dorance Armstrong, DE
  • Dante Fowler, DE
  • Johnathan Hankins, DL
  • Neville Gallimore, DL
  • Trent Sieg, LS

*the Cowboys have no exclusive rights free agents in 2024

There are some clear-and-present headline names in that list, from future Hall of Fame tackle Tyron Smith to Pro Bowl running back Tony Pollard to former NFL Defensive Player Stephon Gilmore, along with glue guys such as cornerback Jourdan Lewis and defensive ends Dante Fowler and Dorance Armstrong — two of the latter three being homegrown talent that was drafted and developed into impact players.

From the running back position to cornerbacks, from offensive line (including a former Pro Bowler at center) to the defensive line (both edge and interior), it's a lot to sift through for the Cowboys' front office.

And, yet, sift through it they must, and with more pressure than ever to hit the jackpot with their offseason salary cap approach in 2024.

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